Reviews: Erstwhile

A very lovely way to experience some of the brothers Grimm's lesser known fairytales

Erstwhile is a webcomic adaptation of some of Grimm's fairytales, trying to give some of the more uncommon tales light and it's a charming and beautiful success. All the stories are adapted faithfully and with intelligence, but often using the artwork to give it a touch of cuteness, or a little humour that might not have been there otherwise. It's impressive how little they rely on words to tell the story, their pictures give no need for narration and the dialogue is simple and reduced to whats necessary which is important. In fairytales the spoken word always has an emphasis, it's often a repeated pattern or the key part of the magic, no-one chatters to each other and Erstwhile is impressive at being able to tell the stories so clearly whilst keeping to that.

The short form of most fairytales also allows for satisfying conclusions, something normally denied to webcomics by their ongoing nature and it updates thrice weekly and the storylines are shared out between three separate artists, giving each one a unique feel. The tales are naturally very good themselves and they don't pull punches when adapting them. Fairytale endings just don't belong in a fairytale many a time and several of the short stories they've told so far are tragic all the way through. Maybe the one weakness of the webcomic is the fault of the original tales themselves, which sometimes had some pretty hateful themes with Beauty Equals Goodness the predominant flaw. But it doesn't ruin the tales and there is a reason why the Grimm Fairytales became so famous.

Ultimately, Erstwhile seems to be a complete work of love for all the artists and it makes everything delightful, if you want to hear some of the more uncommon stories, then there's good reason to start here.